About Steuben County
Corning & Finger Lakes Wine Country - an area best known for sparkling Steuben crystal, glimmering glacial lakes, spectacular scenery, award-winning wines and fabulous fishing and hunting.
Stay a little longer and discover our best-kept secrets! Enjoy the slower pace of our charming Finger Lakes villages brimming with true Americana; celebrate our Native American Heritage; experience the art of classic masters and emerging artists or experiment with your own creative flare at the Corning Museum of Glass; explore the innovative spirit of our aviation pioneers. All this and more await in Corning and the Finger Lakes Region - where great experiences become lasting memories!
History of Steuben County
At first, it was Iroquois country. Along the Canisteo ran "The Forbidden Trail;" Europeans caught past that river had a lot of explaining to do. After the Revolution Charles Willamson paddled up the Conhocton, cut a clearing in the forest, and named it Bath, after a backer in England. Williamson was front man for investors owning a million acres of wilderness east of the Genesee. He was better at promoting and at living large than he was at balancing books, but big spenders from Virginia to Canada journeyed to Bath for Williamson's fairs, horse races, and theatrical presentations. He quickly got Steuben erected as a separate county, with Bath as its county seat.
The Conhocton, which flows to the Susquehanna, was the region's key trade route for 40 years. Settlers felled trees to make "arks," filled the vessels with goods, poled as far as Baltimore, sold everything including the ark (for lumber) and hiked back home.
Railroads and the Erie Canal changed all that, but Bath, though small, still boasts the green square that the setters cleared (across from the courthouse), the pioneer cemetery, and the broad straight avenues an optimistic Colonel Williamson planned. After the Civil War Bath became home to "the Soldiers' Home," now a VA facility and national cemetery.
Two major railroads and several lesser lines crossed the county, and Hornell, right at the western edge, flourished for a hundred years as home to the Erie Railroad's main repair shops. Railroads also assured the rapid development of Corning, once several lines crossed there -- one bringing Pennsylvania coal. Coal, sand, and rail lines after the Civil War sparked the birth of Corning Glass Works, and later Steuben Glass. Corning created Edison 's first light bulb, the 200-inch Hale Observatory mirror, Corning Ware, Corelle, and fiber-optics. Corning Incorporated now concentrates on high-tech fields, while subsidiary Steuben creates art glass.
Hammondsport started out servicing schooners and steamers on Keuka Lake, transshipping goods to Penn Yan and the Erie Canal feeder system. But in 1829 Reverend Bostwick grew the region's first grapes in the Episcopal rectory, then made the first wine in the Finger Lakes. By 1860 Pleasant Valley Wine Company was in business, as it remains today. Wine is still Hammondsport's claim to fame, but from around 1900 to the end of the First World War, Hammondsport was a leading manufacturer of motorcycles and airplanes -- thanks to native son Glenn Curtiss, still honored with the Wright brothers as a founding father of aviation. Fiber-optics -- railroads -- airplanes -- award-winning wines. Who knows what "Old Steuben" will come up with next?
For more history about the Finger Lakes Region, take a moment to visit crookedlakereview.com.
10 Fun Facts about the Finger Lakes
- The first bonded winery in the United States is located in Hammondsport, now called Pleasant Valley Wine Company.
- New York State is home to the Finger Lakes.
- There are 11 lakes designated as "Finger Lakes" with 650 miles of shoreline.
- Keuka Lake is one of the few lakes in the world that flows both north and south.
- Glenn H. Curtiss was the pilot of the first publicly announced flight in America on July 4, 1908.
- Partial filming for the American movie Signs took place in the fields of Hornell, NY.
- The Corning Museum of Glass houses the world's most comprehensive and celebrated collection of glass.
- The oldest annual County Fair in the nation is the Steuben County Agricultural Fair held every August in Bath.
- The first female space shuttle commander, Eileen Collins, hails from the area and graduated from Corning Community College.
- The Tree Sitting Contest, held during the Cohocton Fall Foliage Festival is a unique contest that inspired a Trivial Pursuit game question.